Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Union walk-outs don't have the same meaning now

Unions used to mean something. They're still marginally useful, but like Obstructionists, their power has waned. Unlike Obstructionists, some of the union people are fed up with partisan politics, and they walked out on the "friends of the little people" who fly to the Democrat convention in private jets, and arrive at the appointed gathering in a limousine. For the unionists who blindly support Democrats, these perks are paid for by deductions from their members' salaries. Republican supporters arrive at their conventions in the same fashion, with one basic difference: they own the jets and limousines. Producers are by and large conservatives, and they know how to make things happen without government subsidies. They haven't paid for those luxuries with the wages of some poor working stiff; they earned the money and bought their toys. I'm not talking about the embezzling corporate crooks like Ken Lay, either. I'm talking about the corporate types who are fountainheads, providing jobs for millions, and products that make America the envy of the world. In a land where freedom includes the right to look for a better job if you feel you're being "exploited", there is less and less need for a power bloc to "guard the rights of the workers".

What follows is guest commentary by a security manager at a large industrial facility that is "a union shop." He deals with union members, and their occasional arrogance, on a daily basis. I asked him recently about the "union stuff" that happened this week. His take on "organized labor" is much more acute and timely than mine, so I yield the floor to the distinguished gentleman from Iowa:

Their membership is dropping off like flies in a cold snap. The reason "They are getting tired of the unions spending their money on politics."

I told one union guy this morning why. "The unions used to control the Democratic Party. Now the Democratic Party controls the unions and are making the unions pay for the privilege." Their members want the unions to spend their dues on benefits and other related projects. AFL-CIO spent $53 million out right in their attempt to defeat President Bush. That is not counting roughly double what they contributed to "527" organizations. That is a lot of retirement they squandered against the wishes of roughly 39% of the local membership here alone.

They are losing their membership which, in the case of the Teamsters, is their political power. Lose membership they lose money. Lose the money and lose the influence not to mention the voting blocks they represent. If they want to maintain their hegemony they have to actually represent their people or, as the so-called leadership here has found out, they will have no people to represent. They have been insulting the intelligence of their members for years. It took 9/11 and John Kerry to expose the hypocrisy. The AFL-CIO has lost the trust and the Teamsters are cutting their losses.

Friday, July 22, 2005

"Red Liz" strikes back!

"And now the liberal portion of the letter that you can post in your blog for mocking, if you want:

There are about 1 billion Muslims in the world. I have a hard time grasping that ALL of them want to destroy Israel and the West and live life according to the Wahabbi tradition. Most of them, at least in the better economies, may want to have a cold beer now and then, wear Tshirts and shorts, watch R-rated movies at the theater with their spouses...or at least be okay with their neighbors doing those things. The problem is, 1% of the Muslim world is very much NOT OKAY with that. They will kill any woman who dares show her chin. They burn down record stores that sell music. S**t, some of them don't even let kids play with toys. I guess what we need to do is isolate that 1% from the other 99%, or give the 99% the confidence to overthrow the 1% in charge.

I know in the past I've said that we should arm the women to rebel against the men. I still think this should happen. Those chadors and burqas can hide a number of small arms.


Dear Liz,

One percent of a billion people is a lot of folks. That's still a million people wanting to put on explosive underwear. Or is that ten million? It's a bunch. When it's your family being blown up on the subway, one is too many.

I'll grant you the statistics you cite for "good" Muslims. They aren't going to have a beer with you, that's against The Faith, and they may eschew adult movie fare and not let their children play with certain kinds of toys. Hell, people in California don't let their kids play with "war toys", and veteran movie fanatic that I am, I still say "Ewww!" at certain R-rated wastes of celluloid. Different people take offense at different things. It's called "live and let live." "Life" is the key word in today's context.

The point is, a "good" Muslim condemns the actions of those who defame their faith. Islam is basically a subculture of the American Christian faith. So is Judaism. So sorry to have to break it to you, but we have you outnumbered. This country was founded by people who emerged from the bloodbath of European Christian Reformation, and the sorry record of persecution that went with it. Get used to it; things have changed for the better. Blood has been shed by Christians for over 200 years to uphold the rights of Jews and Muslims to believe what they believe. We've all fought side-by-side when things were grim. I won't give you an argument here about righteousness, and I won't go against Ward Churchill in trying to justify what we did to the Native Americans we stole this land from; what I'm trying to say is that those who feel their faith is being usurped by the tyrannical pretenders should speak up.

Please don't tell me that "Islam is a religion of peace" and then dance in the streets when 3000+ innocent people are slaughtered for the crime of going to their jobs. Before a bomb goes off, tell me where the bomber is. Where, specifically, were we invading on 11 September 2001? What devious plot did America have going in the food-for-oil travesty? We'd let people skate up until that time. They threw bombs, and we treated them like they'd tossed toilet paper in someone's front yard. We offend the rest of the world because we exist, and we stand for something. Our crime isn't greedy corporate aggression; it's the sin of existing as human beings who believe in something different from the tyrant who rules Islam. If it is otherwise, say so. Help us as people, and don't hide those cynics who'll kill you as quickly as us infidels.

The borders are wide open, I just saw new footage of a tunnel from Canada into Washington that you can pass an ADM through. I am not a mind-numbed robot following my president into Hell; note to Mr. Bush: You'd better do something about those borders, and better now than later. I hear that little cartoon voice crying "You'll be sooooryyyyy..."

To all true Muslims: If you truly believe the tenets of your religion, and you truly condemn the actions of those you claim to share it with, in peace, then you may have to drop a dime. Freedom of worship guarantees you insularity in your community, but if you want to have that community accepted by the rest of the world, you might want to think about cooperation in exposing those who betray Islam by murder and tyranny.

The other side of the coin, as my pal suggests, is that you will be totally isolated from the mainstream of the society that you seek to destroy. They will come after you first. I address this last to the destroyers. If you cannot be found as individuals, you will be persecuted as a culture. Look at our ignoble record with the Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbor. I'll make no excuses for "white" people; at the risk of sounding like someone worthy of condemnation, I'll remind you of the facts that liberals like to remind us of:

We exterminated the "Indians", the Native Americans who were here before us. We stole this land fair and square, as someone once said.

We locked anyone with "slanty-eyes" up after Nippon attacked Pearl Harbor. White folks have a bad track record of exterminating cultures that disagree with them. We're trying to be the good guys these days, but when murder is the response to our acceptance of "cultural diversity", you're awakening the primeval beast. Do you want to be the next to cease to exist, or would you rather live in harmony with others? Our peculiar Christian faith taught us to turn the 0ther cheek, and accept others for what they are, and what they believe. Does Allah teach you that, or the tyranny of the sword?

Liz, women in Islam will have to be taught to read, and drive automobiles, before they can master the intricacies of an AK-47. The current state of Islam forbids this. In America, we lock tax resisters up for 20-30 years. In Islam, they kill you for defying them to learn how to read. The lesson's pretty explicit in either case.

Israel? Like they say in New York, "fuggeaboutdit!" Like your Obstructionists, who howl for George Bush's demise via impeachment or a kamaikaze jetliner into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the hostility against Israel is a blood feud that won't be quieted by any appeasement. Jews are an offense to Allah, and only heathen Americans who look beyond this can dictate peace. The word "dictate" makes me shudder, but there it is.

This is going to get ugly, and ruthless. Like we tell the kids: "Don't make me have to come up there!" Unfortunately, wherever "up there" is, we're going to hike the stairs. If true Islamic believers don't realize this, and come down on the side of those who truly seek peace and not serfdom, then they will find themselves on the losing side of a culture war that hasn't been pursued to these extremes seen since Medieval days. "Isolation" doesn't mean what it used to. You, the murderers, will lose, and in the process, you'll drag down the innocents you claim to represent. Not that this has mattered to you so far.

I never mock you, Liz. You know that, after all these years. Please, though...think a little deeper.

Best regards,

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Dodging the bullet

Well, the sun has set on the British Empire, in more ways than one, and the facts are beginning to come in.

By now we’re becoming inured to terrorist bombings—I don’t work for the CBC, so I can say “terrorist”—and the increasingly frequent outrages are slipping in their priority as a source of disgust. People were spared today by the grace of God, nothing less, when those bombs didn’t go off as intended.

What I asked, rhetorically, in speculating if the Brits “get it”, was questioning their realization that the Islamofascists will never stop until they are eradicated. They don’t want appeasement, or “recognition” of their twisted version of a venerated religious faith. Like the “cargo cults” of old, they cast an eye to the West, and want the riches without the hard work that goes into producing them. They think if they get a break, their way of life will triumph over any other social system yet devised by mankind.

The famed lawman and sports writer Bat Masterson had something to say about “equal breaks” shortly before he died in 1921: “The rich man gets ice in the summer, and the poor man gets it in the winter. I suppose that's an equal break.”

Even more disgusting than the murderous attempts today was a question fired at British PM Tony Blair: “Do you feel any responsibility that your policies have placed the citizens of London in the front line on the war on terror?” That was from yet another reporter; more freedom of the press in civilized countries. The PM put the blame where it belongs…on the terrorists. Bravo, Mr. Blair! Hear, hear!

The citizens of London dodged a bullet today. There is no middle ground, no appeasement by apologizing for any past slights, real or perceived. There was none of this equivocation when V-1 and V-2 rockets were raining down on London. What’s the problem now?

I read Andy McNabb’s book about Desert Storm; I forget the title, but his SAS squad fought their way across the whole country before they got caught. Savvy readers know where Google™ and such things are. Brits remain calm when they’re slitting your throat for being a bad person. Before the coalition invaded Iraq a second time, there were people parading around London holding signs that directly echoed Neville Chamberlain: “Peace In Our Time.” I wonder what those appeasers thought today, fighting the traffic jams as they skirted the miracle that no one else was killed in pursuit of dhimmitude and “peace in our time?” Do you think they "get it" yet?

Addendum to "A Free Press?"

I promise not to run long here. If anyone doubts the validity of what I had to say in my lengthy little rant about a free press, they do not have to look further than Sudan today. While government thugs were busy roughing up American journalists and diplomatic personnel, an official said openly—on camera, no less—that there is “no free press” in that troubled country. The government thugs were attempting to bar reporters from a designated photo-opportunity with Sudan’s president du jour. (I still prefer my du jours lightly roasted, with the almond and garlic sauce.)

One of those getting the bum’s rush was reporter Andrea Mitchell. I seem to recall that she’s married to Alan Greenspan, a fellow who holds considerable power here at home. Whooo, boy! I’ve made some boo-boos in my time, but hustling the Fed chairman’s wife isn’t one of them. In the world according to Those People, we’ve invaded sovereign nations for lesser offenses.

A lower-grade kleptocrat from the Sudan government stated later that those who attempted to eject the reporters from the room “would be dealt with.” Over here, that might mean being called into your supervisor’s office and being told that your behavior is unacceptable. Over there, it might mean they’re going to take you into the alley and shoot you in the back of the head.

Enjoy your canned peas and instant mashed potatoes, Ms. Miller. Things could be worse.

Do they get it yet?

More bombings in London, and the police are said to be in pursuit of a wild weasel wearing explosive underwear, loose on the streets. FOX News has better coverage, but panic seems to be the order of the day in jolly old England.

Just yesterday, London's esteemed mayor, affectionately called "Red Ken" by some of his constituents, blamed the first wave of bombings on "The West". I wonder what he's thinking today? Does he "get it" yet?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

A couple of notes...

I will keep my posts shorter in the future. I'm not here to lecture, and I know folks aren't dropping by to plow through long, rambling screeds.

One of the trolls from ScrappleFace dropped by, left typically odious droppings, and left. (The remark was in comments on "Gotta Love 'Em.") Ironically, the behavior exhibited by this person was a perfect example of the infantile feces-flinging I used as a metaphor in that post.

Thanks for proving my point, Liger. You are awarded the dubious honor of being the first comment deleted for gratuitous and excessive obscenity. I'm quite unimpressed with the ethnic street-thug vocabulary. Maybe you can move to San Bernardino on the Left Coast, and teach Ebonics now that they've decided it's a legitimate language. Drop by again when you've got something intelligent to say. (In a perfect world, that means we'd never see that scrub again!)

A free press? Free to do what?

While we wait for the Obstructionists’ ever-simmering hatred of President Bush to come to a boil over his nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court, let’s hammer the last nail into the coffin of the Rove non-issue and gird up for the showdown that’s brewing:

A friend lamented the other day that the incarceration of Judith Miller has fundamentally weakened the First Amendment, specifically freedom of the press. The key part of that exchange went as follows:

Possum: “I haven't heard anything from the "amen corner" about all the recent brouhaha over the evil genius...the man they love to call "Bush's brain." Could it be that you're embarrassed by the antics of those representing your political affiliation?”

Red Liz: “No, more like I'm disgusted by all parties involved. My Side, for whining and not establishing a stronger attack....and Your Side, for treating the press like stuff you'd wipe off Lupe's backside. A strong and vital press is key in any democracy, and This Current Mess [sic] has weakened them.”

I used to pretend to be a journalist. I even studied the craft, in high school and college, and worked at it briefly and sporadically. My instructors were “old-school” types. You know, the kind who used to have a press pass stuck into the brim of their fedora hat, and carried pencils and a little wire-bound notebook for gathering facts and recording history. Although I never pursued it as a vocation, I was fortunate to have learned from those old pros how journalism used to work. My friend’s remarks, and too much coffee, prompted some thoughts about the state of journalism today:

We have strong and free news media today. To paraphrase Art Linkletter, journalists say the darnedest things! Freedom of speech, no matter how outrageous, is still alive and well. This blog is offered as Exhibit A. The "attacks" on liberal media that some folks are crying about aren't attempts to undermine freedom of the press to say anything they want; they’re calls for a return to traditional standards of reportage. The Old Media that used to control public attitudes and popular perceptions has lost control. They know it, and they’re nearly as desperate as the Obstructionists. Blogs are part of this social phenomenon that's eroded the ability of corporate groupthink to coronate candidates. The flow of information is no longer channeled through three networks and the NY Times, Boston Globe, etc. Look at the duplicity of Rather and CBS in the TANG memo scandal. What "60 Minutes" did was as incompetent and partisan as any rubbish about racial superiority you'd find posted on a neo-Nazi web site. Rather & Co. wanted it to be true, and in typical liberal fashion, they felt that "perception is reality", and set about trying to make it so. Then they ran headlong into the real world; a place filled with intelligent, perceptive people who can smell a fake a mile away. What you want and what you feel doesn’t count for much in the real world; you have to deal with what is. I shudder to think of how those phony memos would have been received by the public if there had been only Dan, Peter, and Tom to tell us what to think of the reality they permitted to filter through their red lens.

The problem with the news media is not an issue of freedom, but the fact that they've been drunk on their power for 30 years. Ever since Woodward and Bernstein brought Nixon down, news reporting has been corrupted by "gotcha" journalism, editorial advocacy in allegedly straight news reporting, and dizzying spin to further the careers of celebrity reporters. I know what you're thinking here, and you're wrong. O'Reilly and Limbaugh don't purport to be straight-up newsmen. O'Reilly calls himself an "analyst", and Limbaugh refers to himself as "an entertainer". Jon Stewart and Al Frankenstein say the same things from the Left. That's fine; it's the real freedom of the press. The First Amendment is safe...for the moment. All these pundits and personalities have the right to say whatever they want about the news story du jour. They don't have the right to present their opinions as unbiased reportage.

If you go to your local journalism school, seek out one of the students, and ask them why they want to be a reporter, odds are you're going to hear "Because I want to change the world, and make it a better place." BUZZ! Wrong answer! We have a plethora of veteran journalists whose experience in straight news reporting gives them credentials as pundits. The job of a reporter is to report the news, not make it. Read Joe Galloway's book, We Were Soldiers Once…. And Young, or watch the Mel Gibson movie with the abbreviated title. Galloway got involved in his story, all right, but when he was finished fighting for his life, he dropped the rifle and went right back to being a reporter.

Young reporters today, press and TV, go out and gather the facts, and I'm sure a lot of them do it without introducing their personal agenda into the process. However, they cover the stories their editors assign them, and those same editors make the decisions about how, when, and where to present those stories. A lot of those editors are liberal, and they have agendas. They also have enormous power in their control of what news is released. Responsible editors make extensive use of their research staff to verify facts, and eschew inflammatory headlines. (Reporters do not write their own headlines!) The NY Times used to be the "newspaper of record", but they are now as corrupt and marginalized as The Weekly World News. ("Wayne Newton Murdered Elvis in a UFO.") FOX News succeeds because they truly strive to be "fair and balanced"™. They don't need to spin stories, because Roger Ailes doesn't underestimate the acuity of his audience. If FOX reports a story and opens it for comment, they go out of their way to see that both sides are represented in the choice of “common taters.” That network has established a level of trust with the public, whereas CBS lost its credibility through partisan advocacy of less-than-popular causes. (Not to mention getting caught in outright lies!) The unfortunate liberal elitist attitude has long been that most people are incapable of thinking for themselves, and need someone to make decisions for them. ("We're professionals, kids! Don't try this at home!") The thought of reporting like Joe "Just the facts, ma'am" Friday never occurred to them. With the freedom of information and opinion that's come about with the advent of the Internet, people are more enabled than ever before to examine the facts, and make up their own minds about the cause, effect, and potential outcomes of any issue. Certainly there's abuse of this potential by both sides, but there are enough independent sources of information on the same story that a discerning reader can sort fact from fiction.

That's what's driving the Old Media crazy, sending them into the same hysterical frenzy as The Obstructionists. That snide remark last fall about "pajama-clad bloggers" revealed the contempt that Old Media has for truth. It was plebian bloggers who exposed the TANG scam, and that didn't fit the liberal agenda. Like The Obstructionists, the Old Media lost big last year, and they won't be happy until they have Republican blood on the floor. I don't think anything will satiate them, now. If GWB fires Rove as a sacrificial lamb, the press will howl that this is a certain indication of guilt. If he keeps Rove on, they'll still howl that it's a sign of guilt; a cover-up being kept in-house and close to home. Kind of like Rather finally admitting the TANG memos were false, but they contained "an essence of truth". What BS! A lie is a lie is a lie! I don't want to hear moral equivalencies or factual equivocations. A thing is either true, or it's false. Just tell me that A is A, B is B, and let me decide if A+B=C. That used to be the function of the free press. Lamentably, that's no longer the case. That's the bone the American public has to pick with the Old Media. Protecting your sources is a fine, noble thing to do. If you're a reporter, and you're going to present hearsay and innuendo as truth, you'd better be prepared to prove the veracity of your source. In the Rove matter, the facts have contravened what Cooper and Miller reported. Once again, half-witted reporting has been exposed. For Heaven's sake, it was a reporter who outed Plame to Rove! This whole thing is like the anti-Watergate! Instead of the free press attacking a secretive administration, you have an administration that ought to be putting even more heat on a secretive press. Unlike bloggers, a responsible reporter cannot present any nebulous thing they want to be true as factual. And, as Martha Stewart so aptly demonstrated, you can't tell lies to the government. What she may or may not have done in the stock deal was insignificant; the fact that she lied to The Feebs about it was what got her hinder into Camp Cupcake for a few minutes. Ms. Miller is operating under the assumption that her glorious martyrdom in the cause of "journalistic ethics" is going to prove the veracity of her questionable assertions. Like Cooper, she should have caved dramatically at the last minute. She's taking minor heat for someone who'd be in major trouble if she gave them up. If she doesn't mind the inconvenience of a shabby uniform and bad food for a few months to protect her source, more power to her. It's not like we're breaking out the bamboo slivers and electrodes to uncover yet another liar in the DC labyrinth. When she loses the weight that starchy jailhouse food's going to put on her, and can fit into her designer clothes and go back to work, she'll still be free to print any insidious half-truths and outright lies that run through her fevered mind. In these "he said/she said" situations, it helps if there's a third party who can say "I saw..." She'll be a heroine to her peers, and still have the right to play word games like Rather about the truth inherent in lies.

Meanwhile, the usual Obstructionist suspects are lining up for the battle over Judge Roberts. The American public is not stupid, and the conduct of the Democrats during the upcoming hearings will be a defining moment for the future of their party. Judging by today’s rumblings from The Left, they know they can’t win, but like Custer at Little Big Horn, they’re going to go down shooting.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Gotta Love 'Em!

The Obstructionist Party, formerly known as the Democrats, are howling for Karl Rove's head. They're howling about President Bush's as-yet-unnamed replacement for Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court. They're howling about everything.

When a newborn baby cries continually in the other room, it gets on your nerves. If it's someone else's baby, you have to hope the parents will go in and see to its needs. Otherwise, you have to tune it out. If the parent doesn't see to the needs of the infant immediately, its cries will become more strident and demanding. The parent runs the risk that, if it's a full diaper that's making the kid cry, the child might eventually fish around inside that diaper and sling something nasty upon the wall.

I tortured up this feverish metaphor yesterday, when I heard that a Far Left website is urging its myrmidons to throw feces in Karl Rove's front yard, as a protest about... something. MoveOn.orgy, I think it was, but I don't take notes in front of the TV during Brit Hume's "Special Report" show. I'm lazy, and I'm sure all three of my savvy, devoted readers can look this up on the net and verify it. What caught my attention was that these intellectual giants had published Mr. Rove's home address, and a detailed map directing these wannabe vandals to his house.

This whole Rove/Plame/Wilson affair has exhausted my patience, and bored me to tears. Like someone else's kid crying in the other room, it's infantile wailing about an unspecified discomfort. Now, Those People have resorted to literally digging in their diapers for something nasty to toss about. Every time I hear demands about "bi-partisan consensus" from the Obstructionists, it filters through to what's left of my mind as a childish cry to have their noses wiped and their diapers changed.

What follows is a story about a more up-front group of equally petulant children. Although they're regarded by the FBI as a Top Five domestic terrorist organization, some of their antics at least produce a chuckle from time to time. I was going to post a link, but the blog won't accept my clumsy HTML tags. This was far more intriguing than almost anything else, besides the proposed desecration of Karl Rove's lawn:

Kill name, PETA asks Fishkill

Animal rights group offers alternative

By Anthony Farmer - Poughkeepsie Journal ©

If Fishkill changes its name to a more animal-friendly moniker, will the striped bass swimming in the Hudson River have any idea?

PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, seems to think so.

The animal rights group based in Norfolk, Va., renewed its call, first made nearly a decade ago, for Fishkill to change its name. The group now wants the town and village to be known as, which just happens to be the Internet address for a PETA Web site dedicated to the group's "fish empathy project."
Fishkill officials weren't biting Wednesday.

The name Fishkill is actually derived from two Dutch words: Vis, for fish, and Kill, for stream or creek. PETA acknowledges the true meaning of the name, but said most who see Fishkill on a map wouldn't know that.

Implied definition

"When they think of Fishkill, they think of abusing fish and that's not the right message," said Karin Robertson, manager of PETA's fish empathy project. "By changing the name, Fishkill can send a positive message to people."

PETA argues studies show fish are smarter than most people think.

PETA also offered to donate $15,000 worth of a soy-based, faux-fish product for school students in the town if the name is changed.

But local Fishkillers said PETA's offer wasn't likely to catch on.

Resident Willa Skinner, the town historian, said the area has been known as Fishkill since it was first settled.

"I don't know what's the matter with these people," Skinner said. "I think they don't mind a lot of ridicule. "What about the other kills, like Otterkill, Beaverkill, Catskill?" she wondered.

PETA said it would welcome any town with such a name to change it to something more animal-friendly.

Supervisor Joan Pagones said the name is part of the town's heritage and is not meant to demean any form of life. She noted the community even has a disaster plan that includes animals.

"We love animals, we love fish, we love dogs, we love cats," Pagones said. "We can't change our heritage."

Pagones said she is willing to sit down with the group. Instead of changing the town's name, she hoped any discussion would focus more on things like not using animals for testing commercial products, something she supports.

"I don't even have a fur coat," she added.

PETA has cast its net before seeking towns to change their names, but has come up empty.

Two years ago, PETA offered $15,000 worth of veggie patties for the community of Hamburg, near Buffalo, to change it's name to "Veggieburg." Hamburg leaders declined.

"We haven't been taken up on any of our offers yet," Robertson admitted.

Monday, July 11, 2005

A Public Service Annoucement

About four times a week, on average, I get calls from India. People with strange foreign accents ask to speak with Mrs. Wombat.

At first, I was cordial with them, and patiently explained that she hasn't lived at my unlisted telephone number since October, 2003. After speaking with her about this recurring annoyance, I gave the callers her new phone number, and requested that they change and update their database.

When the calls continued, my demeanor deteriorated into snarls of "How did you get this number?" That worked the first time, and discombobulated the poor Hindu on the other end of the line. The second and third times, I got replies that were essentially sales pitches for the online service that can't shoot straight. Now, as I did a few minutes ago, I just hang up without comment. This will never end.

Here's the funny part: the people who persist in ringing up The Possum Den are a bunch calling itself "Online Pharmacy." The ex-Mrs. Wombat requires certain prescriptions for her thyroid and other middle-aged ailments. I suppose it's sensible enough to purchase these drugs from an online vendor.

Think about it, though. Here is a bunch of people who can't correct a wrong telephone number in their database, and you're going to trust them to supply you with medications? Some folks need medicine to sustain their lives, and the proper administration of that medicine is tricky business; a correctly filled prescription can be a matter of life and death. The wrong dosage can be toxic.

So, here's this gang selling drugs on the internet, and they can't get a telephone number right, after being told for over a year that it's the wrong number. I'm sure it's all legal and above-board, the callers are always polite, and I've been chided for snarling at poor working stiffs doing their jobs. Still, would you trust people like this to dispense an aspirin to you? Once, when preparing to give out Mrs. Wombat's new phone number, I asked rhetorically "Have you got your pencil ready?" The person on the other end of the line told me earnestly that they don't keep pencils at hand for noting database adjustments. Every time I've been cordial with these folks, they assure me that they'll make the necessary adjustments to the database. The next day, or sometimes again that same day, the phone will ring, and someone will ask to speak to Mrs. Wombat.

"Online Pharmacy." I have no idea how many people are out there on the Internet calling themselves the "Online Pharmacy." I suppose I should be grateful for their calls; otherwise, I might go for days and not know if my phone is working.

Still, it makes me wonder. If they can't get a phone number right, would I want them to fill a prescription for me?

The PSA? Simple. Patronize your local pharmacist. It might cost a couple more bucks, but at least when you walk into the corner drugstore, you'll get to speak to someone who'll look you in the eye, pay attention to your problem, no matter how minor it may be, and take steps to correct the situation.

There's a diatribe lurking here about "outsourcing" jobs, but I don't begrudge a bunch of Indians their minimum wages for working the phones. I just wish they'd quit calling me.

Entertainment news from UPI

International pop star Britney Spears announced today that she has filed for divorce from husband Kevin Federline. Although the pop diva is pregnant, she declared that she is leaving Federline to marry the love of her life, Arnold Ziffle, of "Green Acres" fame.

In a related story, Ms. Spears informed UPI that she will be producing a second "reality TV" show. "Now that my marriage to Kevin is over, I'll be returning to the farm, where Arnold and I can enjoy the serenity of the simple life," Ms. Spears elaborated.

"I hope that my new show will bring attention to the plight of those involved in interspecies romance," Ms. Spears continued. "I have been in contact with Senator Hillary Clinton (Socialist-New York), who also married a pig. She understands my needs, and has been quite supportive."

Senator Clinton is expected to take time off from the filibuster of President Bush's unnamed Supreme Court candidate to introduce legislation recognizing interspecies marriage on the federal level. Currently, only Arkansas and Alabama recognize the legitimacy of interspecies marriage.

"I never wanted the publicity, but this can be a landmark case," Ms. Spears stated. "We should be free to marry whoever we want to. All men are pigs, and at least Arnold bathes more often than Kevin. If I've got to put up with all that grunting and squealing, at least I can have it from someone who's got all four feet firmly planted on the ground."

An enraged Paris Hilton, expected to file suit over the encroachment of her reality show concept, was not available for comment.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Okay, we got possums!

What follows is a portion of an e-mail I sent in response to the question "How far do you take a possum into the woods before releasing it?" I frequently get my best focus from individual e-mails. I must learn to use this power for good!

When I was a kid, my dad and I would go fishing, frequently returning after dark. If he saw a dark shape scurry across the road, he would pull the old '52 Nash onto the shoulder, dip into the trunk, and go running off into the darkness with a "croaker sack", i.e. a burlap bag. He would return sometime later, throw his catch into the trunk, and we'd continue home.

"Home" was a farm, replete with old McDonald's menagerie: goats, chickens, cattle, rabbits, mules, and horses. Occasionally we had seasonal critters like turkeys, to liven things up.

There were rabbit cages down by the goat pens, and that's where the possums would go. They'd find themselves in a vacant cage, and it fell to me to bring them dried corn and water every morning. Although they'd cower and snarl, and occasionally "play dead", I became attached to them. I gave them names, and talked to them. Single children do strange things.

Eventually, after a few weeks they'd disappear from the cage. No mention was made of their fate, but it was coincidental that Dad broke out the crock pot, and there would be something cooking in it for a day or so. I sampled this forbidden fruit; it was tasty. "The other white meat."

Later on, when my state [public] schooling led me into college, I realized what had happened to the possums. Grotesque as it was, they were meat, not pets. Like Elly May Clampett, I embarked on a journey of exploration. I had feasted on The Children of the Night; now I owed it to them to regard their heritage.

Possums are unchanged for 800,000+ years. They are one of the oldest mammals in the fossil record. They are marsupials; they carry their young in pouches under the hind legs until the kids are ready to strike out on their own. Like Army Rangers, they operate at night, and own the darkness. They have sharp little teeth, and will bite the hell out of you if you offer an unprotected hand.

"Playing possum" is a real thing; if you make a lot of noise or create a violent racket, they will roll into a ball and feign death. These are not aggressive critters, but you don't want to back one into a corner. They'll lie there like they're dead, right up until the moment they bite the hell out of you. Possums want nothing more than to be left alone.

The famed director Tod Browning, who did the original "Dracula" movie with Bela Lugosi, and "Freaks", with real circus performers, used possums extensively in his second unit shots. They epitomize the "Children of the Night." Besides bats, they are truly after-dark operators. They steal eggs, and slaughter chickens when they can catch them on their roosts. Possums are unpleasant to look at, frequently being described as "hairy rats." Unlike rats, there is no documented instance of a possum attacking a domestic animal, except for their aforementioned chicken raids. They are known to invade trash cans, because mankind continues to encroach upon their habitat. We throw too much stuff away, and some of that garbage is mighty tasty. They are submissive when caught in a humane trap, and adapt well to relocation.

How far to take a possum into the woods? Beats me! My parents almost lost me when I was an infant, but they didn't take me far enough into the woods; it got dark, I got hungry, and found my way home. I have had an abnormal empathy and sympathy for possums since I was enlisted to care for them during my adolescence. They've come to symbolize survivors. One lays back, plays dead, and gives the enemy every opportunity to seek another target. In the end, though, if their hand grasps for you, you bite it. Hard. Possums don't have the teeth of carnivores, like dogs, because we only go for the throat if we have to. Be gentle with your neighborhood possum; catch it humanely, and take it to the deep woods and point it in the right direction.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Okay, we start with the Brits...

...and their uncanny ability to "muddle through somehow." That was what they said about War II: "we'll muddle through somehow." They certainly did that. We in America tend to make melodramatic statements about our [relatively] new-found power; the Brits have taken it for granted for a long time that they are among the most powerful people in history. They built empires, and it was sheer luck that freed us from their power to promote this unique and un-PC idea of freedom for all. They are unflappable, as when the V-2 rockets roared out of nowhere and suddenly demolished entire city blocks. They might drink too much tea and have a taste for poorly-cooked food, but they'll slit your throat in a heartbeat if that's what it takes.

Write that down, Mssr. Chiraq.

DeNiro's words from "Wag the Dog" come immediately to mind: "This is nothing!" They have faced worse, and I don't want to be the poor SOB on the receiving end when they find out who did this. SAS and associates are bad boys. Hitler called the British "a nation of shopkeepers." Hey...shopkeepers sweep out the trash when it piles up too high for the customers to get in!

I remarked elsewhere on the irony of protesters being blown out of the trains they were riding into downtown London to scream against the people doing the most to protect their right to do just that. I think that might be the most immediate interpretation of the old Biblical admonition about "reaping what you sow."

Our cousins across the pond always seem to "muddle through." It's uncanny, and it's what makes them great. Here's hoping they never become as "nuanced" as the sophisticates across the Channel.

I'll eventually figure out the links, photos, etc. involved with operating this blog. Please bear with me. I have the computer literacy of a sixth-grader, and only half of the smarts.

How I feel most days

I was vastly disappointed that I couldn't use the original Possumtrot™ name as my user name on Blogger. I've been asked if I lifted it from something called The Red Green Show, which I've never seen in my life. I thought I was being cute and original with the "Possumtrot" nom-de-cyber. Someone beat me to it here. Like my cousin in the picture, I didn't move fast enough when it counted.

Are we having fun yet?

Getting started!

Okay, I have my own blog. I can add images, and perhaps revive the spirit of the orginal "United Possums International." That started life as a visual joke some years ago; my personal reaction to the news of the day.

I continue to react; at times I sound and act demented. I'll tolerate the occasional salty adjective, but profanity is the intellectually lazy shortcut to expression, and won't be tolerated in any great degree.

This might be fun. Let's have some!